First, I apologize for the delay in getting this up. There were distractions and responsibilities that prohibited my finishing Love Medicine yesterday.
Second, I can’t tell you who listed this book as I have (again) misplaced my Top Ten book.
Third, I loved this book.
Love Medicine is a beautiful book of three generations. There are so many reasons I loved this book. I will list some below.
- The different narrators. Each chapter is narrated by a different character. Some only narrate once (June and Beverly are the two I can remember off the top of my head) but their impact to the storyline can be felt throughout the entire story. Each narrator’s voice is different from the other. The story spans 4 generations (if you count King Jr, the only one from the 4th generation to speak) and so there are similarities between the narrators from each generation (Lulu and Marie have some narrative things in common, the women that really are the birth of the whole story in terms of genealogical timelines). But, each narrator has language and ways of forming thoughts and telling stories that is different and unique. This isn’t always achieved by an author telling a story in this format, but Erdrich kills at doing it.
- The secrets and the lies and the influence of these on each generation. I am lucky enough to come from a multi generational family that I knew quite well (my great grandmother lived until I was 19, my grandmas on both side are still alive). There were undercurrents and murmurs under the undercurrents when I was a child. Not that there were huge secrets that I have ever known or large dysfunctions but I think every family and every community has things that the next generation don’t know. There are still some things that I hear from my father that are new information. There are things that he wonders about as well from when he was a kid. Erdrich explores this theme throughout the book in a way that intertwines with each character and each story.
- The experience of living as an American Indian in the 20th century. Because Erdrich delivers stories living within a story and because all the characters have at least half American Indian blood, you leave the book feeling that you know a little bit about the experience. Obviously, I am not saying I am now an expert on what it is like or an expert on anything. But it gave me a small taste that I now carry with me always.
- Being with characters as they age. One thing I have always loved about multi-generational story lines is watching characters age, seeing the changes they experience within and without themselves. You live in Marie’s skin from 14 when she has a bad experience with a nun at the convent to her old age. You live in Lulu’s skin from when she is 14 and jilted by the man she loves and runs to live with a recluse on an island and to have his child to when she is very old and visited by the ghost of that first love. We read sometimes to know ourselves better. Multi-generational books give me the experience of aging, it gives me a context to put my own experience into.
- The recurrent theme that the novel centers around, that of love and betrayal because of that love.
Now, this, this is truly:
Have a great weekend!